How much is that bundle of joy going to cost you? There are lots of online calculators out there, but a quick search will yield this estimator at Babycenter.com. The calculations are based on USDA’s 2010 report, wherein they take account of the region you live in, your annual income, and the type of schooling your child will eventually attend (big factor here). After spitting in my info, the calculator tells me I’ll be spending $13,000 this year.
The thing is, unless you’re an extreme bean counter, most people head into parenting with their eyes half opened. That isn’t to say people decide to have children out of thin-air, but I have yet to met a couple that based their baby decision on numbers. “Yep honey, we can set aside $10,000 per year, so we can definitely have another baby. Just let me know when you’re ovulating!”
Having said that, after the wife and I ran through the numbers from the past few months, we’ll definitely be more financially conscious with our next baby (if there’s to be a next one).
So despite the fact that the numbers above may be a bit off (given the fact that you’re probably paying for housing and transportation of some sort already), they are still good ballpark numbers to think about given that people tend to move into larger homes when the family size increases.
A few things really stood out to me from the numbers above:
- I started writing this post near the end of 2012, the annual cost went up from $12,000 to $13,000, whereas the final bill jumped by $10,000 to $333,280 vs. the previous $321,140 estimated in 2012. Yep, inflation can be crazy.
- Er… I don’t have $333,280 sitting in the bank. Well, not quite. I suppose if I sold the house we’ll have more than enough, but the life of a vagabond with a 6-month-old probably won’t be approved by the wife.
- You are NOT going to stop spending money on your kid when they reach 18 — I can already foresee it: “Dad. Listen. All my friends are going to Europe for their summer break during college. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE CAN I GO TOO.”
Now obviously I can tell my daughter to shove-off 19 years later when she begs me (or the wife) for some cash — or hopefully we’ve raised her well and she would have figured out some sensible method to attend her trip (and avoid being TAKEN), but regardless of this made-up scenario, it is highly unlikely you’ll stop supporting your child financially some way or another after they’ve turned 18.
Based on my own personal free-loading experience on my parents, it is more likely that you’ll be offering financial assistance to your adult child until they’ve settled into a secured job or maybe even until they’ve started raising their own family.
In fact, a post I wrote way back in 2008 on “freeloading family members” showcased the very problem of an adult child (or other relatives) overstaying their welcome (some of the comments in that thread, all the way up to as recently as this week can be a difficult read).
The Real Cost: Things You Just Can’t Plan For
While online calculators are fine and dandy to give you a dreaded number to look at, the real cost are things you absolutely just can’t plan for. While our baby thus far appears to be a textbook baby, there are definitely situations where cost can be rather unexpected:
#1 The co-pays. Perhaps your health insurance doesn’t cover office visit beyond preventive care. Worst, you may have expensive co-pays even for preventive care (though that’s probably rare).
According to the Mayo Clinic, most babies have up to SEVEN colds within the first year of their life! The numbers gets decidedly higher if the child is at daycare or comes into frequent contact with other babies and toddlers. $10 here, $20 there. It adds up.
Sure, you don’t need to visit the doctor every time little Timmy is coughing, but tell that to the worrisome first-time parents and you’d probably receive a nice cold death stare.
#2 The unexpected formula baby. You’ve planned to breastfeed Timmy since day five of conception and you’ve heard horror stories of initial breastfeeding experience (all true), but you’re determined to stick it out and get that special extra bonding time.
And then it happens. Maybe you got really sick. Or work got busy. Or even though the breastfeeding class says EVERY mother will produce milk but you’re just in that 1% clause. Whatever the reason, you switched to formula feeding and suddenly you’re paying an extra $1,100 to $1,700 per year (amount depends on the baby, formula of choice etc).
#3 The lack of hand-me-downs or family support. Perhaps you’ve moved to a new city or your family doesn’t live nearby. Or heck, maybe you’re one of the first in a small family with a newborn. Regardless, babies can grow stupidly fast and the cost basic things such as clothing can get quickly out of hand. I’m fairly certain my daughter has outfits that cost more than what I’m wearing right now (to be fair I often write blog posts in boxers only… hey, enjoy that imaginary for those that have met me).
The lack of family support, whether via hand-me-downs or an extra person being around to help you watch the kid can really add up in cost. If the kid’s grandparents aren’t available or in the vicinity, what do you do when maternity leave is over for both parents? I’ve talked to quite a few fellow parents recently and the topic of daycare cost vs. returning to the workforce is always a tricky situation. On one hand, you’ll be increasing household income, but on the other hand, daycare can get mighty expensive.
There’s obviously been plenty of books written on the cost associating with having a baby and raising a child, and probably plenty of book with tips on saving money while raising a child too. The only solid thing I can say with confidence is that you can never really give an exact number to the cost of raising a child.
Sure, you can ballpark it, but if there’s one I’ve learn from all these wacky parenting books the wife and I have been reading, is that every child is different, and you’re probably not going to get that lucky textbook/angel baby. So your child’s needs, and the associated cost that goes along with them, will always be on the drawing board. Be prepare for these unexpected changes, buffer your resources whenever you can, and you’ll have a decent fighting chance :D